As a person who can never turn down free kitchen gadgets from friends who are moving or trying to get rid of clutter, I have assembled a collection of those 16 ounce “Little Dipper” crockpots for ants that come free with the normal size crockpots. Each time I accept another free tiny crockpot, it is wrapped in the original packaging, which means that my friend never used it in all the years they had it in their possession. Despite this, I get visions in my head of an amazing Mexican-themed dinner party with several flavors of homemade cheese dip being kept warm in the little baby crockpots, all snuggled in a row. Well, after 2 years of storing a family of tiny crockpots still in their original packaging in my cabinet, I have finally come up with a daily use for them – making oatmeal!
My husband leaves for work pretty early and I always want to send him off with a warm breakfast (especially during the winter when it gets down below 70 degrees here in Honolulu at night – freezing!) but there’s no way that this pregnant lady with a toddler is going to get up early enough to make something fresh for my hard working honey. He really loves oatmeal and it’s actually quite a healthy and filling breakfast if it’s prepared properly by soaking before cooking to reduce levels of phytic acid (a nutrient blocker that makes grain difficult to digest). Here’s what I do:
- Place 1/4 to 1/2 cup of oats in the crockpot and add twice as much water. I like to use steel cut Irish oatmeal but just get whatever you can find at the store that seems the least processed. If you are a gluten-free person make sure the oats are labeled as “gluten free” because many times, oats and gluten-containing grains are processed on the same equipment so there is cross-contamination. Gauge how much you soak based on how much cooked oatmeal you want – using 1/4 cup of oats will expand to about a cup cooked, and 1/2 cup will expand to about 2 cups. If you have time, let this soak for a few hours. I like to put this on before I make dinner since I’m in the kitchen anyway. Once in a while I don’t have time for this step so I skip right to the next one and my husband seems to survive okay!
- After the initial soak, dump out this water and then add about 3 parts of water to 1 part of soaked oats. You can also add a dash of buttermilk or whey if you have it to help make the oats even more digestible. I add a pinch of Celtic salt at this stage to increase the mineral content, and a dash of cinnamon so the kitchen smells warm and comforting when my husband wakes up to eat.
- Plug in your tiny crockpot and let cook overnight!
- In the morning, mix with any toppings that make you happy to be awake: butter from grassfed cows, coconut milk, minimally processed cow’s milk or cream, chopped raw nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, raw honey, shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped dates, apple sauce, protein powder – whatever your heart desires. If you’re more of a savory person, you can also mix an egg and some bacon or sausage in for a salty pudding reminiscent of a big hairy Irish man.
- Fill crockpot with water to soak so it’s easy to clean up and use for the next day, unless you’re like me and have several tiny crockpots that can be switched out so there’s no hurry to clean up the used one and it can just sit on the counter taking up space and waiting to be washed. Not that I ever do that.
If any of you readers out there have uses for tiny crockpots (other than cheese dip, I figured that one out already) please share them in the comments section! I love finding new and exciting uses for all my kitchen gadgets.
December 7, 2011 2 Comments
I don’t normally write posts like this, but I wanted to make sure all you lovely readers out there knew that for the rest of October the Weston A. Price Foundation is undergoing its yearly member drive. The WAPF is a truly amazing organization that has impressed me over and over again for their ability to take biochemical truths and turn them into simple guidelines that make health available to people. Plus, they scientifically support my innate love for butter and coconut! If not for their impact on my life as a nutritionist, you might be stuck reading boring drivel about the benefits of a fat-free diet and why margarine is a great idea. But instead, as my sister once told a well-meaning guy friend who pinched her side and pointed out a little embellishment to her curve – the fat is the flavor! So, add some flavor to your life and support this foundation so they can keep getting the word out about the importance of clean food, healthy fat, and a traditional, nourishing diet. For only $40 a year you get access to the members only section of their website, a copy of their annual shopping guide booklet, and a quarterly magazine that contains interesting and entertaining info and is great to read at the beach, on the train (or in the bathroom – wherever you do your heavy reading is your business). If $40 is out of your budget, they actually have a discounted rate of $25 for people with lowered income due to disability or unemployment. And I promise I am getting no commercial benefit or kickback from this – I just renewed my membership today under my new name and thought I would take the opportunity to let you all know about it also. So join if you can, and if you can’t then at least check out their website, so that you can put on a Utopian white shirt and join the clip art circular group hug containing a disproportionate amount of Asians that is pictured above and know that you are now a member of the cool club.
October 21, 2011 No Comments
I realized today that I’ve been writing so much lately about pregnancy, babies, and women’s health that I better balance it out and write about something manly lest this become a girls only blog! Here are a few foods that balance testosterone levels and help to keep a manly man the way nature intended – you guessed it – manly.
- Butter: Yes, I am famous for going on and on about the health benefits of butter and allowing my toddler to eat slices of butter like they’re candy but there’s a reason for that. Butter from healthy cows that have been fed grass instead of grain is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), the only trans fat found in nature and one of the most manly fatty acids out there. In fact, if you take a break from reading this blog and do a search on CLA I bet you will come upon a host of bodybuilding websites, and what is more manly than a bunch of overly tan men, greased up with Crisco, dancing around on a stage and posing in tiny underpants? But back to butter. It contains CLA, which helps to balance levels of insulin, estrogen, and testosterone. And this is why it’s a popular supplement for bodybuilders. Butter also contains activated vitamin A, which is necessary for production of testosterone.
- Grassfed beef: This is another great source of CLA and also a wonderful way to get plenty of protein and zinc – two precursors needed for testosterone production. Please note that I am making a distinction here between grassfed meat and butter and regular commercial meat and butter. Sadly, commercial cows are raised in feedlots, fed grain that lowers their levels of CLA (cows get CLA from the fermentation of grass in their gut done by bacteria that are killed off when feedlot cows are fed grain and antibiotics), and in some cases are even given doses of synthetic estrogen to make them grow faster and produce more milk. These factors end up having the opposite effect on testosterone and they are the reason that foods containing saturated fat have such a bad reputation these days.
- White button mushrooms: Aromatase is an enzyme that turns androgens (man hormones) into estrogens (lady hormones). This is most important in the development of hormone dependent cancers, which is why foods that have anti-aromatase activity are heavily studied so that drug companies can figure out how to make drugs with the same activity. White button mushrooms are one of the foods that you will find in these studies, though I suspect that most mushrooms have the same benefits (white buttons are just the cheapest, so probably they are the easiest to study in large amounts – that is purely my speculation though). If you’re going to go off the deep end on eating mushrooms, make sure that you cook them first (in grassfed butter!). Eating raw mushrooms in large amounts can expose you to a toxin inherent in mushrooms which is broken down when they are exposed to heat.
- Cruciferous vegetables: This includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, radish, turnip, and watercress. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-based compounds including one called I3C (indole-3-carbinol) that help to balance hormone levels and detoxify excess estrogen. These compounds are widely studied for their anti-cancer effects, and when I worked in a clinic we used to give men a supplement containing these sulfur-based compounds to help them with urinary frequency problems. Some of them came back reporting an increase in function in the “love area”, which I’m guessing would be due to a balancing of their testosterone levels!
- Pumpkin seeds: Rich in zinc (another important nutrient for balancing hormone levels), pumpkin seeds also contain phytochemicals that are especially nourishing to the prostate. The two studies I read found that pumpkin seed oil effectively reduced prostate size in cases of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia – also known as an enlarged prostate) that were caused by hormone imbalance. And for all you coconut lovers out there – I found a study from Cuba that showed coconut oil to have the same benefits on BPH!
Ladies – I know the focus of this blog was more on men, but keep in mind that testosterone levels are important for women too! In fact, testosterone is the single most important hormone related to sex drive for women. So you may want to re-read this blog with that in mind :).
July 6, 2011 2 Comments
For some reason, since adding the Ask Jessica feature to my website I have gotten an inordinate amount of questions regarding the nutritional benefits of pie. I don’t know what it is about my website that attracts so many over-the-top pie lovers, but I’m thankful for the business! Even if some of you are creepily serious about your pie questions. Here’s one of my favorite pie-related questions so far. And honestly, if I get any more questions about the nutrition of pie I’m going to have to open up an entirely new page on my website because it seems that my readers care way more about pie than they do about any health topic I could write about!
Q: What kind of pie should I make? Fruity, nutty, chocolatey or custardy? Please assume all ingredients are organic, if that helps.
A: Each type of pie you have listed has its own benefits, so why don’t I help your decision making process by listing them out below.
- Fruity: Fruit pies contain (you will never guess) – fruit. And fruit, being a natural produce item, has plenty of health benefits depending on which type you use. Blueberries have been found to contain antioxidants that protect the brain, cherries contain natural pain relieving compounds and may help promote a good night’s sleep due to their melatonin content (especially tart cherries), and apples have been shown in some studies to keep those pesky doctors away (and they also contain trace amounts of chromium, a mineral that helps to balance out the insulin your body is releasing in response to a huge slice of sugary pie). The downside to fruit pies is that they normally require the use of cups and cups of sugar. I have found that adding a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of lemon juice helps reduce the amount of sugar you need to make the pie tasty. You can also try substituting xylitol (natural sugar from birch trees) for all or part of the sugar in your recipe. Just make sure that you work your way up to it – lots of xylitol in one sitting eaten by people who are not used to it may cause loose stool due to its laxative effect and may also cause a runny nose or general unwell feeling since it kills off excess yeast in the body, leading to detox reactions. From personal experience, I have to warn you not to make a pure xylitol apple pie for your husband without telling him lest he dominate the ENTIRE pie in one sitting and then blame you for his explosive diarrhea the next day at work.
- Nutty: Nuts contain healthy fats and also protein, both of which are very beneficial. The downside with nut pies is that they require even more sugar than fruit pies to make them taste like a pie and not a 1970’s granola bar. Most nut pie recipes (such as pecan pie) also require the addition of corn syrup which is not an ideal sweetener due to the fact that it mostly comes from genetically modified corn and if you have ever researched the subject or have seen the documentary King Corn, the idea of corn syrup would just give you the heebie jeebies. You could try substituting stevia and/or honey for the sugar and corn syrup but I don’t know if that would crystallize properly. At any rate, if you must make nut pie try using sucanat or another form of natural cane sugar that still contains the trace minerals and look for organic corn syrup, which actually does exist (Wholesome Sweeteners brand makes a variety).
- Chocolatey: I can only assume you are referring to a chocolate pudding type of pie here? In that case, I would have to point to chocolate’s antioxidant properties which are highlighted over and over again especially in women’s health magazines since most writers rightly assume that the majority of women are addicted to chocolate. My theory on this is that women especially crave chocolate because it is a source of magnesium (the mineral that balances out calcium levels) and most of us get a lot of calcium since we live in fear of bone loss but not quite enough magnesium to balance this out since there is not much press on the subject. Magnesium is found in green vegetables, so somebody should start paying celebrities to pose for ads of them with green vegetable moustaches to bring more light to the fact that magnesium is just as important as calcium. But back to your pie – the nice thing about pudding pies is that homemade pudding contains milk compounds and starches that have been shown to improve quality of sleep. But if it’s chocolate pudding, the caffeine naturally present in chocolate may affect this a bit.
- Custardy: Custard pies are made from eggs, the whites of which are an excellent source of protein and the yolks of which are an amazing storehouse of B vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and healthy cholesterol. To get back to your original question, if I were to decide your pie fate I would pick a custard pie simply because eggs are so incredibly good for you. Custard pies also contain milk, which may give you some of the milk pudding effect listed above. And I would think that stevia, xylitol and/or sucanat would blend seamlessly into a custard pie.
June 13, 2011 2 Comments